Pioneer Day (or Days of ’47) lands on July 24 each year and marks the day in 1847 when Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley. It's an extra summer holiday for residents of Utah, celebrated in much the same way as the Fourth of July, yet with religious roots.
Picnics, parades, rodeos, concerts, and fireworks are held throughout greater Salt Lake and in surrounding communities in July. And while outlying areas may celebrate the event with a simple church or family picnic, the city itself goes all-out to commemorate Young and the pioneers of the American West.
Since 1997, the Days of '47 KUTV Pops Concert has kicked off the Pioneer Day activities in Salt Lake City. Featuring the Choral Arts Society of Utah, the West Valley Symphony of Utah, and various guest artists, the ensemble entertains crowds with patriotic favorites and Broadway hits. The free concert takes place at Abravanel Hall though tickets are required. In 2019, the evening concerts take place Friday, July 12 and Saturday, July 13.
The Days of ’47 Float Preview Party is like a backstage pass to Salt Lake's famous Days of ’47 Parade. Here, you'll get up close and personal with enormous parade floats and see what it takes for the production to come together. Enjoy activities for children, like face painting and balloon artists. Then, vote for your favorite float and watch to see if your pick wins an award come parade day.
Next up, the parade itself is held on July 24 in downtown Salt Lake. Camp out the night before to assure you get a good view of the floats, horses, bands, and clowns that parade down the street in a festive procession. Many local businesses are open during the festivities, so pop into your favorite restaurant after the event (reservations needed) or enjoy food from numerous roadside vendors.
Traditionally Utah’s largest rodeo, the Days of '47 Rodeo draws world-champion cowboys, cowgirls, and some of the roughest stock. The Utah State Fair park opens at 4 p.m. for activities, including mechanical bull rides, a petting zoo, a carnival, pony rides, live music, and cultural exhibits.
This concert, held in conjunction with other Pioneer Day celebrations, continues its annual tradition of commemorating the arrival of the first Mormon pioneers in the Salt Lake valley. Each year, several guest artists, including actors, singers, and dancers come together at the LDC Conference Center for a remarkable display of talent. Tickets are free and required and standby seating is available on a first-come, first served basis. The standby line forms at the north gate on Temple Square at 6:30 p.m.
This family-oriented event retraces the route of the 1847 pioneers. The five-mile hike follows Emigration Creek through the neighborhoods of Salt Lake City to the area's first pioneer campsite. The hike is free, but advance registration is suggested. Meet at Donner Park and enjoy an authentic pioneer breakfast at First Encampment Park after the hike.
The Deseret News Marathon is the real deal. This marathon is one of the fourth oldest marathons west of the Continental Divide and is a sanctioned qualifier for the Boston Marathon. A great downhill run, the marathon's course drops a total elevation of 3,200 feet and ends in downtown Salt Lake City along the parade route. You can also register for the half marathon, the 10K, and the 5K.
All religious denominations are invited to the Assembly Hall on Temple Square for a sunrise service on July 24. This community gathering features a choir comprised of singers from throughout the valley and an inspirational talk. Admission is free and tickets are not required.
Pioneer Days at This Is the Place Heritage Park begins with a flag-raising ceremony and end with the bang of a candy cannon. Enjoy some of the same activities that brought joy to the weary pioneers like panning for gold, pony and train rides, music, and crafts. This paid-entry festival also features Native American dancing, a bird show, and games.
One of Salt Lake City's biggest Native American celebrations coincides with Pioneer Day. At this intertribal pow-wow, you can enjoy traditional music and drumming, dancing, crafts, food, and celebrity appearances. The regalia is beautiful and the fireworks display at 10 p.m. caps off the night at Liberty Park.
Down in St. George, Merrill Osmond hosts a youth pioneer production and firework celebration called "The Pioneer Legacy." More than 100 child performers depict the journey of Utah's pioneers through music, dance, and theater. The event is free, but donations for the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund are welcome. Bring blankets and water with you to the Dixie State University Trailblazer Stadium (chairs, coolers, and outside food are not allowed).